DOWN -- A San Juan County man was convicted for stealing items from the home of a Durango family. The man and two other thieves targeted the home when they read in the newspaper that the father, mother and daughter had been hospitalized for injuries sustained in a propane tank explosion.The thief had been convicted four felony burglary charges in 2000 and a felony burglary charge in 2008.That means he likely will receive an enhanced sentence, which could be as much as 38 years in prison. This person doesn't seem to have learned anything from his past experiences. We agree with San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw who said, "He's been to (the New Mexico Department of Corrections) before and he has to go away longer this time."
UP -- An $8 million facility unveiled by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority will provide wireless Internet access to 70 percent of the Navajo population living on the reservation. The utility will build 32 tower sites throughout the reservation and 60 microwave links. The facility connects 570 miles of fiber optic lines, including links to Farmington and Albuquerque. We realize there are more basic issues of access to clean water and electricity for some reservation residents, but Internet access is becoming more important for any kind of business venture and even for social connections. We also have a dog in this fight. We hope people will read our comprehensive coverage of the Four Corners area.
DOWN -- A revision to the state's plan for reducing haze produced by power plants in the Four Corners area is expected to directly eliminate hundreds of San Juan County jobs with good pay and decrease the demand for coal at the San Juan and Navajo mines. That decrease in demand for coal likely also will eliminate jobs. County CEO Kim Carpenter points out that the changes will impact "four of the top five property tax paying entities in the county." We want clean and clear air, which supports resident health and tourist enjoyment, but it sometimes seems that these plans are based more on political convenience than atmospheric science. Lost in the mix is the human cost to area residents.
DOWN -- Another smoke shop was robbed this week. But the down is for another bit of information in our story on the robbery. Police told The Daily Times that -- despite a Drug Enforcement Administration official's recent assertion -- spice, a synthetic drug that is smoked and has unpredictable health effects, still is being sold in the county. That's not surprising news since the manufacturers of spice (and other similar drugs referred to as "bath salts") regularly change formulas to evade laws that must contain specifics on what is illegal.
UP -- New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Petra Maes plans to travel to Farmington to get local lawyers to commit to "pro bono" work. That kind of work is performed free or for a significantly reduced fee. Daniel Abeyta, managing attorney at the DNA People's Legal Services' Farmington office says helping people who can't afford representation and often end up representing themselves ensures fairness in our justice system and speeds up the process. Abeyta also spoke of the need in the Farmington area and around the state. Maes said a 2007 study showed there were about 14,000 people with civil issues who couldn't afford an attorney and that the situation has not improved. We hope local attorneys volunteer.
UP -- Sweet monsoon rain. Drought conditions in San Juan County were so bad in the early part of the summer they were approaching crisis levels. One area rancher noted that it was almost time to make a "call" on the river. When that happens some water users with more recent claims could be denied water. The recent rains have pulled the area back from the edge. Although the odds don't look good, we're hoping for an extended monsoon this year and in years to come.